Keondra Hooks is watching over Moody Manor.
More specifically, her image, depicted in a new mural, is directly outside the apartment where the 1-year-old girl and her 2-year-old sister, Leondra Hooks, were shot on Aug. 9, 2012.
Keondra died 12 hours after being shot in the head; Leondra, now 3, miraculously survived a bullet in her chest.
“We wanted to make sure that people remember and we hope this helps people remember and work out how to make it better,” said Warren Woodberry who, with his wife, Yolanda, was commissioned to create the eight-panel mural.
The 32-foot by 8-foot art installation, which edges a year-old community garden, is to be unveiled and dedicated to Keondra at 1:30 p.m. today.
The mural is part of a two-prong approach to changing the atmosphere at Moody Manor, said John Kiley, president of the Vistula Management Co. that has managed the central-city property for 30 years.
“We had this terrible shooting a year ago, and the Catholic Diocese, which owns Moody Manor, made it very clear … that we needed to do whatever we could on two fronts,” Mr. Kiley said. “One, we needed to increase security so this thing doesn't happen again and two, do something to give the people of Moody Manor and the neighborhood a chance to ... express the grief of this incident.”
Mr. and Mrs. Woodberry worked on the mural — from planning to the final touches — for three or four months, Mr. Woodberry said.
They had help from Moody Manor residents, with major assists from some of the children who live in the low-income apartment complex that is most synonymous with gang activity and violence.
Most of the mural is a bright scene of farmers: One portion shows the way a garden would be tended in Africa and another shows urban gardening.
Keondra, in a pink top and holding a plant, is on a cloud atop the last panel. Around her neck is a necklace with two keys to represent the girl’s nickname KeKe.
Next to her image, the words “Child of the Heavens” are inscribed.
“We wanted it to mean something,” Mr. Woodberry said about the mural. “It meant something to us. This is our way of giving a voice to tragedies in a neighborhood.”
Keondra’s mother, Quentorria Snowden, said she has not been back to the Moody Manor since the night of the shooting, but she might go to see the mural.
“I think it’s a nice idea,” she said. “I’d like to take LeLe over there to see it.”
LeLe is Leondra’s nickname.
Mr. Woodberry, a Toledo native, has lived in cities around the world and has seen similar headlines of children becoming unintended casualties in street wars they know nothing about. But he never wanted that story to come from his hometown.
“It was just complete sadness, disbelief, but belief because we know ignorance happens,” he said. “There are people out there who have no understanding of the repercussion of what they do, so they see their act as justified. … We lived in a lot of different places — New York, New Orleans, Atlanta — so you see this kind of thing, but you never get accustomed to it. You never get comfortable with it. Never.”
Creating the mural with Keondra’s image could spur additional conversations on how to address the city’s gangs and associated violence.
During the trial of the men accused of the fatal Moody Manor shooting, prosecutors said the men they believed were responsible were looking for a rival gang member in the apartment where Keondra and Leondra were sleeping.
Through a rear sliding-glass door, someone fired 16 shots into the apartment, striking the girls. Keondra died at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center 12 hours after she was shot. Leondra, despite some lingering injuries, is OK.
Convicted of the shooting were Antwaine Jones and Keshawn Jennings, who were both ordered to spend 40 years to life in prison after being found guilty in July of aggravated murder, murder, improperly discharging a firearm into a habitation, attempted murder, four counts of felonious assault, and eight gun specifications.
A third co-defendant, James Moore, 21, testified against his friends during the trial and, in return, accepted a three-year sentence for involuntary manslaughter.
All three are members of a Bloods gang, the Manor Boyz, who claim the Moody Manor and neighborhood as their territory.
Part of the plan for the Moody Manor is to increase security, Mr. Kiley said. Since the shooting “very high-intensity lights” have been installed, and soon an Internet-based surveillance system will be installed to allow the Toledo Police Department to access the system and footage, Mr. Kiley said.
“We want to make it as unpleasant for the Manor Boyz as we can,” he said. “They are a fairly determined lot, so it’s been an ongoing struggle. I’m hopeful that, with these lights, it becomes a less pleasant place for the kind of activity they’re interested in.”